Lucy Cotter versus Maple Bee – an improbable “contest”

I’d been waiting ages for this to appear on YouTube.

The playlist starts anticlimatically with a totally straight PJ Harvey cover, but then the original songs start to appear…

I don’t know how Lucy Cotter got herself into such a situation, but when fronting the group The Morgans (using the stage name LeFay – well, of course!) she found herself signed to Dressed To Kill – a label that specialised in various-artists compilations. (Compilations often very good indeed, sometimes crappy and/or deceptive, sometimes both). Somehow she was persuaded to participate in every tribute album project going, in addition to recording solo and with the band.

These recordings were included on every possible compilation, under a variety of made-up names (Ghost Mother Cometh, Lucyfix, Snogram). Suddenly everyone had heard her songs, or at least her voice, but few knew who she was.

Finally these songs were gathered and re-released under her own name. (I think there’s a cover tune or two missing from this playlist, along with the “rant” version of Half Girl).

I knew that stylistically, thematically and at times vocally, it was striking a familiar tone. And then I realised – with this, Lucy Cotter somehow has made – to oversimplify – the album we always wanted, but didn’t get, from Maple Bee

I’ve been catching up with the Maple Bee catalog* and finding myself disappointed. I was underwhelmed when the album Home came out, but I now know that was not an abberration but a “norm” for Melanie Garside.

I don’t know which of these principles apply: (a) Some people need to be miserable to kickstart their “creativity”, because they can’t write inspired/inspiring music when they’re content with life; or (b) Some people are doomed to only ever experience a brief bout of “artistic inspiration”. (Which in her case was basically Vertigo Angels, half of Fossil and half of Chasing Eva). Things went off when she’d exorcised (or salved, through parenthood? I thought, usually, that had the opposite effect…) whatever trauma was driving her.
[Aside: Dubious theory which must be aired – I always had a suspicion that Katie-Jane and Mel grew up suffering under (an?) abusive parent(?s)…just because there was a time when images of suffocation, starvation, and burning – and cannibalism, not to be confused with oral sex – regularly turned up in the songs of both.]

Worse, she’s almost lost that trademark Garside family vibrato.

* Give her credit though, for luring Ruth Galloway out of “retirement” (multi-instrumentalist and arranger who also was, at one time, the sexiest Mediaeval Baebe)


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